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Worthy Doubles Down 

Experimental beers and proprietary hop strains

The men behind Worthy Brewery aren't expecting to ride the crowded waves of the craft brewing boom. Instead, their eyes are on the horizon. Already they're out in front of trends, busily preparing and planning for that next set.

In the nearly one year that Worthy has been open (its anniversary is this February), the eastside brewery has gone beyond the typical IPAs, porters and browns to produce more than a dozen out-of-the-box beer varieties. Most good, some exceptional, a few just "meh," but all were made while experimenting and tweaking traditional recipes.

But remember this: in brewing, as in life, the more one strives, the better the beer ultimately tastes.

Think about operations at Deschutes and, more recently, Crux, 10 Barrel and GoodLife. All started by brewing adequate beer, but through trial and error, small-batch test brews, tinkering and local feedback, these Central Oregon all-stars refined and honed their concoctions into award-winning brilliance. We're happy to see Worthy doing the same.

A recent exemplar is the Worthy seasonal Dark Muse, a luscious, black, brooding Imperial stout that was featured at McMenamins' High Gravity Extravaganza last Saturday. Subtly sweet and thick with roasted grains, this 10.1% ABV beer may be Worthy's best yet (on tap now and available at select bottle shops). But more experimental beers are soon to follow.

Already brewmaster Chad Kennedy has two, five-barrel fermentation tanks filled with a hoppy dunkelweiss and a dry-hopped red lager as part of their Heart & Soul series.

What's more, since 2009 Worthy owner Roger Worthington and his side venture, Indie Hops, have been collaborating with Oregon State University in pursuit of the perfect hop cone. The goal? To become one of the go-to sources for designer hops, a mark Worthington hopes to hit within the next two to three years. Already harvesting the literal fruits of their labors, Kennedy has selected a few of his favorites from among the 21 genotypes available, and in a few short weeks we should be sipping the first beers made from Worthy's in-house hops. That's innovation.

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